The Gulisi Story
Feeding Programme for Gulisi Community Primary School
Partnership with Blissfulsage
The National Garifuna Council (NGC) took a bold but much needed step and inaugurated a new Pre and Primary School on September 11th, 2007. The Gulisi Community Primary school, which is located at the Monument Park at the entrance to Dangriga Town, is named in honor of Gulisi, the daughter of the legendary chief Joseph Chatoyer. As is related in the annals of the history of the Caribbean, it was Joseph Chatoyer who led the Garinagu (Black Caribs) in the war of resistance in defense of our ancestral island home of St Vincent, against the might of the British Colonial Army. His death in 1796 led to the defeat and eventual mass exile of the Garinagu to Central America in 1797.
Gulisi, at the tender age of 13 years, was one of the survivors of the inhumane treatment and near act of genocide that was exerted on the Garinagu on the barren island of Balliceaux. She was a survivor of the harsh sea voyage to Roatan and she eventually migrated to Belize. Together with her husband and children, she founded the settlement of Punta Negra. Gulisi was determined that the history and culture of the Garinagu must never be lost and took extraordinary measures to ensure that her children and grandchildren knew of her past and of her story of survival.
The Garifuna Museum and now the Primary school is named in honor of this extraordinary woman and the school was created as one of the necessary mechanism to ensure the survival of the Garifuna Culture which is under serious threat of extinction as proficiency and use of the language is diminishing among younger generations of Garinagu at an alarming rate.
The curriculum of the school is based on the growing and accepted premise that Indigenous peoples have a right to be educated in and of their own cultural knowledge and therefore our students are being taught on a curriculum which is new in Belize and are taught their lessons equally in Garifuna and English, especially in the formative years, so that they might become fully literate (able to read, write and express themselves) in the indigenous language of the Garinagu as well as in the mainstream official English language of our country and basic Spanish is taught as well.
The school is currently operated out of a rented facility and a soon to be completed 20 ft x 40 ft wooden classroom building. The Ministry of Education has committed and should be constructing 4 Ferro concrete classrooms by early 2008 but already many parents have entrusted the care and education of their children to us which is proof positive of their concern and commitment to the survival of our ancestral culture, values and way of life.